2018 Theme: Trafficking and Migration
February 8, 2018
Commemoration of St. Bakhita
Definition of the theme of trafficking: concept, history, statistics
“Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking […] is a crime against humanity” (Signed Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery, 2 December 2014).
There are tens of millions of people in the world who suffer from trafficking and most of them are women. In recent years, unfortunately, the percentage of children of both sexes who are victims of this scourge has also increased significantly. It is an ever-changing phenomenon and it is therefore difficult to establish its magnitude precisely. Trafficking overlaps and merges with clandestine immigration, with the employment of foreign workers in conditions similar to slavery, with women involved in the sex trade or subjected to marriages of convenience.
Trafficking in persons is among the three largest illegal markets and generates clandestine economies worth $150 billion a year (source: ILO, 2015). Human life is an object, traded and exploited for profit, for forced or humiliating labour in various sectors of the economy, for sexual exploitation or domestic slavery. Many are forced into marriage, or to join criminal organisations; they are mutilated, so organs can be extracted, and forced to beg.
Trafficking in persons can occur within a country's territory, or at the international level, when it crosses national borders. In all countries, we can find victims of trafficking, for a specific country can be the origin, transit or destination for trafficked people. (From Talitha Kum’s website)
Definition of the specific theme 2018: trafficking and migration
The theme of the 2018 World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Trafficking highlights the human tragedy of trafficking in migrating persons: migrants, refugees and evacuees. We are called to open our eyes to this problem which touches so many men and women, our brothers and sisters.
Trafficking in persons and smuggling with migrants are two distinct realities that are always linked. The violence and exploitation suffered by migrants who move without a visa for the country to which they are going is often interpreted as trafficking in human beings. Their vulnerable state makes them easy prey for sex and labour trafficking. Refugees and migrants are subjected to longer working shifts than usual, on a meagre wage, in order to pay off the debt they owe. Over time, traffickers increase the amount of debt owed to them, and many migrants end up receiving threats and intimidation if they fail to pay. Many of them end up disappearing, becoming deadly victims of organ trafficking.
With globalisation, the flow of migrants has increased. Political movements in some countries act against this, thus reducing the entry of migrants. This increases the vulnerability of migrants, a human group with a high risk of becoming victim of trafficking in persons, both when they move from one country to another and when they are in the country where they have settled.
The 2018 International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Trafficking invites us to accompany with prayer and our efforts the commitment of the United Nations in its Meeting on Migration (Global Migration Compact), in which the heads of state and governors of all countries belonging to the United Nations give a special importance to the issue of migration and refugees within their political agendas. This issue is considered common and present for all states and human trafficking remains one of the main issues to be discussed.
Let us give this reality a significant centrality in our lives and in our hearts, opening ourselves to welcome, hope and encounter. Let us give light to freedom by fighting slavery.
Gospel of Luke – Luke 10: 25-37
Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Who is my neighbour?
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with allyour mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
[…] But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Testimony: a testimony telling of the sorrow and the hope of those who wait for their relatives to come back.
Letter from a mother
“Knowing what happened to my daughter, I felt my heart empty and my body freezing. But I prayed to God looking at my two grandchildren; that gave me strength to continue. It was not easy to stop crying. Every Thursday and Sunday I would light a candle asking God especially for my daughter’s sake.
Being away from my daughter, people would ask me about her; that affected me a lot. I lied saying that she was in poor health and therefore couldn’t talk to me ... Even though I was dying inside!
After all this time of sorrow I knew that you gave refuge to her. I felt relieved because she is well and in a safe place. Now my wish is to see her again and be able to talk to her. I keep praying that she’s okay”.
Questions for reflection and silence
Put yourself in the shoes of the people of this testimony
If I were to see a similar situation, what would I do? What would be my reaction?
Does this testimony represent a reality of my country/city?
What is my prayer to God?
Sharing and/or Spontaneous Prayer
In the present day of our history, when migratory flows are increasing, we confirm our faith in the God of life, telling Him our concerns through prayer:
When we hear about boys, girls, men and women being deceived and taken to unknown places for sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ trade, our hearts feel indignation and our spirits suffer, because their dignity and rights are violated by threats, deceit and violence.
Oh God, help us fight against all forms of slavery. Together with Saint Bakhita we ask you to put an end to human trafficking.
Give us the wisdom and strength to be close to those who have been wounded in their body, heart and spirit, so that together we may reach the promise of life and tender and infinite love that you offer to our exploited brothers and sisters.
Touch the hearts of those responsible for this serious crime and support our commitment to work for freedom, the gift you desire for all your sons and daughters. Amen.
OPEN TO TRANSFORMATION
Transformations at the Heart of Church Events
Let God transform you
by the renewing of your minds.
You can then discern the will of God:
what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rm. 12, 2
As we continue revisiting the 175 years of our SNJM Congregation’s existence, we cannot but be riveted by two major events that have forever marked our community’s destiny. These are, of course, the Second Vatican Council and the Quiet Revolution experienced in Quebec during the 1960’s. Let us spend some time today looking at the first event.
From the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope John XXIII wanted to breathe new life into the Church. And so he convoked the Second Vatican Council. It was a work of faith and courage that would be continued by his successor, Paul VI. One of the decrees, Perfectae Caritatis (Perfect Charity), was addressed to religious congregations and urged them to undertake an aggiornamento, a spiritual renewal of religious life. A major challenge!
Our community set about listening to the Spirit speaking to us in this document, calling us:
Concretely, this decree asked us to revise our constitutions, customs, prayer books, common practices, etc., in order to be disciples for our time. Our Congregation responded to this call with seriousness, conviction and enthusiasm. Several Sisters made outstanding contributions by means of their research, their writings, and their work of revising and rewriting the Constitutions. Sisters also contributed by taking part in community discussions, General Chapters, and various other sessions.
The summary of the 24th General Chapter (1967) presented the approved guidelines and changes which invited us, among other things, to be more flexible regarding our spiritual and community life (a variety of prayer forms, small group living, etc.), and to better adapt to real life (civil name, dress, family visits, personal budget, etc.) The document was also an invitation to promote greater participation and personal responsibility. In short, it invited us to take into greater account the demands of the apostolic life.
It was hoped that the document Response to the Spirit, published in 1968, would give meaning to these changes. Here is a significant excerpt:
The spirit of our foundress urges us to advance . . . in the path of spiritual renewal and adaptation to the needs of the time. . . . In order that we may respond fully to the urgencies of our time, our Institute is reconsidering the formation of its members and rejuvenating its structures; in a spirit of service to the Church it is enlarging the scope of its apostolic activities; and in the light of new theological concepts it is deepening its understanding of the consecrated life. (page 2)
The Acts of the 26th General Chapter (1976) presented our charism statement which was later formulated in our Constitutions and Rules (1985):
In fidelity to the spirit of our foundress, we are a community of women religious consecrated to God in the names of Jesus and Mary, who desire to proclaim by our lives the primacy of the love of God. Moved by an active love, we collaborate in the Church’s mission of education, with emphasis on education in the faith, and with a special concern for the poor and the disadvantaged.
These same Constitutions commit us, as we follow in the footsteps of Marie-Rose Durocher, to live our religious consecration as a call from and a response to God. They encourage us, in the name of Jesus, to serve together through chastity which is the broadening of our capacity to love; through poverty which implies sharing, solidarity, simplicity of life and the promotion of justice; through obedience which is our shared search for the will of God; and through the living of our charism which focuses on the full development of the human person.
More recently, the Acts of the 34th General Chapter (2016) invite us to a renewed vision:
In a spirit of contemplation, we root ourselves in the Gospel and the vision of Blessed Marie-Rose to go forth boldly with a renewed vision. The Spirit prompts us to be in dialogue with the emerging questions; to act with audacity and freedom; to widen our circles of collaboration; and to imagine the SNJM mission in new ways – open to all for the sake of the world, the Church, and the whole Earth community. (page 5)
How did Vatican II encourage openness and transformation in our prayer life, our community life, and our apostolic commitments?
What paths have we travelled together during the past 60 years?
Praise be to you, Lord,
for your Holy Spirit who inspired us
to transform our lives.
Praise be to you for opening our minds and hearts
to new horizons and new initiatives.
Keep us always attentive
to the calls of today and tomorrow.
We enter into the season of Advent in the presence of Mary awaiting her child. In the person of Mary, waiting for the birth of Jesus, tradition recognizes a figure of the Church waiting for the fulfillment of the promises. The Church is all Christians, and therefore each of us is a member of the waiting church. Advent recalls the waiting for the birth of the Savior in the flesh. But what are we waiting for? Do we dare to believe that our God became incarnate in the person of his Son who lived in the midst of our human reality?
Mary, it is so that neither God nor neighbors are made to wait
that you set out in haste.
God's visit of love to the world
is immediately transformed, through you, into service.
Servant of the Lord,
you are, at the same time, the servant of humanity.
You go in great haste because love fills you with joy.
As the new Eve, you run,
transported by the One you carry within you,
and you eagerly offer to the world the blessed fruit of your womb.
Holy Mary, share with us this love
that causes you to set out in haste,
which urgently calls you to go to your cousin
in order to share with her the Good News.
Share with us your eagerness to encounter God and neighbor with love and joy.
Rejoice, Mary, you who, according to St. Luke,
are going to the “hill country".
You travel on roads steep and difficult, rocky and unfriendly -
you, the sinless young woman,
surprised at evil and moved by compassion.
You set out on bumpy trails leading to the center of villages,
and opening, as always, paths to your Son.
Towards the pot-holed paths
of the old world, waiting for its spring
-which you bear and which will be born in you -
you set out, the Woman announced beforehand,
younger than the ancient world of sin.
Towards our paths both difficult and steep,
hostile and dangerous, you come.
In the midst of our troubles you reveal to us God’s dream for us,
a dream already fulfilled in you, a marvel of true humanity.
Holy Mary, be truly present to us
so that the difficulties of the road do not hold us back
from responding to the calls of our neighbor.
Our Lady of the Visitation,
grant that we may set out each day, in great haste,
to be of service to our neighbor.
Adapted and translated from a prayer by P. Quiavrac'h, smm
Following Jesus, the Great Sower, Eulalie (Marie-Rose) and Melodie (Marie-Agnes) set out for Longueuil, where Henriette Céré (Marie-Madeleine) and her sister Émélie waited for them in the little parish school. Like Abraham, they set out in faith, not knowing what awaited them. They were responding to a call rooted in their pastoral and social commitment in Beloeil. Bishop Ignace Bourget, very sensitive to the urgent need to educate youth, solicited their physical strength as well as their ardent love for this work of the Church. Their entire lives would be transformed.
Nine months went by in this "Bethlehem" where they lacked almost everything. However, their joy seemed to increase daily through their total gift of self. There was much to do: the material organization and upkeep, religious formation and the acquisition of pedagogical skills. Gratitude was expressed to the Brothers of the Christian Schools who shared their expertise and to the Oblate priests who guided them in their first steps. Salome Martin (Thérèse-de-Jésus) and Hedwidge Davignon (Véronique-du-Crucifix), two multi-talented women, were warmly welcomed. The harvest looked promising and students flocked to them. They had to move into a larger convent.
But challenges and difficulties arose: scheming by Fr. Chiniquy who wanted to take the place of the Oblates; the naivety of their pastor, Fr. Brassard, who allowed himself to be fooled by his protégé; doubts and suspicions among the public and an uncertain future. As they suffered and prayed, Providence watched over them. God wanted this work. It was God’s work and it would survive!
Soon, under the happy gaze of Mother Marie-Rose, the first expansions were realized: Beloeil, Saint-Lin, Saint-Timothée. However, an immense trial was on the horizon: the beloved foundress would depart this life leaving her community this message of hope: God will take care of you.
The expansion would continue: parishes in Quebec were calling for religious teachers. The audacious Thérèse-de-Jésus would send the first missionaries to far-off Oregon. The pace was set. Over time, many foundations were established in the United States, Ontario, Manitoba, Japan, Africa, Haiti, and South America.
As time went by, in order to meet specific needs, a variety of specialized schools were established: nursery schools, teacher training colleges, home economics schools, commercial courses, music schools, classical colleges, art studios, etc. These women, open to transformation, were letting new possibilities emerge wherever they were.
“Those who sow bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as much as you have decided ... God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9: 6-7)
In this time of grace, let us be in touch with the deep roots of our being which connect us to our Congregation. For many years, we have lived according to its values and mission. We have found a home in the SNJM spirituality. We have advanced the spirit of Mother Marie-Rose through the sharing of our gifts and talents, wherever our nominations and the calls of God have led us.
One way for each of us TO REMEMBER as we approach the 175th anniversary of our founding is to take times of quiet to recall God’s blessings.
Praise to You, Lord,
for your constant presence along our paths.
Praise to You for the many seeds cast into the ground.
Praise to You for generous sowers throughout time.
Praise to You for the earth
which welcomed the seed and helped it grow.
Praise to You, Lord, for keeping us open
to the calls of today and the calls of tomorrow.
Simone Perras, in collaboration with the PLT